With the weekend off, the Longhorn players had a chance to get away from football.
“It was definitely a great time to relax and have a normal Saturday,” said safety Blake Gideon. “I’m not used to those weekends, but bye weeks can be pretty nice to rest up and get fresh.”
Quarterback Garrett Gilbert enjoyed a nice round of golwith his father, Gail, and several family friends. Gilbert wasn’t very proud of his play, but in a closest-to-the-cup-style game, his score didn’t matter much.
“I was trying really hard to relax,” Gilbert said. “But I still wound up watching hours and hours of football all weekend.”
Cornerback Aaron Williams, whose muffed punt at the end of the Oklahoma game was heavily scrutinized, said he wanted to get as far away from Austin as possible. So he went one hour north to Florence for dove hunting and shot enough to make a meal out of it. His mother has a special recipe for dove that Williams can’t get enough of.
“She puts some jalapeno and cream cheese in there, and you can call it a day,” Williams said with a smile.
Defensive tackle Kheeston Randall went home to Beaumont for his mother’s cooking. She prepared shrimp alfredo and banana pudding, and he also got to attend his church in his hometown. But like many of his teammates, Randall just wound up watching football when he attended a game played by Lamar University.
“It was pretty cool to see my friends play, and I got to be a spectator for a change,” Randall said.
Every Longhorn defensive player is well aware of the sensational game that Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez had Thursday night.
The dual-threat quarterback lit up Kansas State, passing for 128 yards on just seven attempts and rushing for 241 yards on 15 carries. On the season, he’s averaging a staggering 10.3 yards per pass, 10.8 yards per rush attempt and he also leads the country with 12 rushing touchdowns. With his ridiculous statistics, the Longhorns are already crediting him as a Heisman front-runner, and he’s drawing big comparisons.
“I don’t even remember Vince running for that many yards,” said head coach Mack Brown, forgetting about Young’s visit to Oklahoma State in 2005 when he rushed for 267 yards.
But to simulate Martinez’s abilities in practice, the coaches have utilized athletic scout team receiver Brock Fitzhenry, who played quarterback at Giddings High School. Fitzhenry has quite a resume — in 2008, as a senior at Giddings, he rushed for 9.2 yards per carry, and his 36 100-yard rushing games rank ninth in Texas high school football history.
“Brock does a good job for us, but it’s tough to simulate Martinez,” said defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. “He’s a great player who’s not only quick, but he’s very fast as well.”
Static depth chart
Despite losing consecutive games, the Texas coaches didn’t make many changes in the depth chart.
Freshman receiver Mike Davis, one of Texas’ most reliable playmakers early in the season, is probable for the game. Davis suffered a knee injury in the loss to UCLA and was unable to play against Oklahoma, but he’s listed as one of the either/or starters at flanker, along with seniors John Chiles and James Kirkendoll.
After a solid game against Oklahoma where he rushed for 53 yards on nine carries, junior Fozzy Whittaker is still the starter at running back.
On defense, sophomore Alex Okafor solidified his starting spot at defensive tackle on the inside with Randall. Muschamp praised Okafor’s progression and feels he gives the Longhorns the best chance to stop a Nebraska run game that averages 337.6 yards per game and ranks second in the nation.
“He’s improving every day,” Muschamp said. “He’s a guy who’s a really good athlete with a great attitude and work ethic, and he’s got a lot of potential for us in there.”